Ok, So, I have a fantastic customer who has been with me since I started roasting. The problem is when we first met it they only wanted Jamaican Blue Mountain (Grrrr) and no other. Over time, I have gotten them away from that but they are only interested in what they hear from others in their little circle. Jamaican, then Kona, then Kenya AA. They say every coffee they buy it's never bold enough. They said they want a coffee that slaps them in the face!!!! Now, they are all about Guatemalan coffee. Any suggestions? I really want to please them as they have been with me for three years now. Thanks for any adivice you can give.
Ask what they mean by 'bold'? I've found 'bold' to mean 'roasty', 'full bodied', 'flavorful' and / or 'unique / different'. Then you'll have an idea where they're coming from and what they want.
Kenya is very clean finishing... Guat is chocolaty... Kona is earthy, full and not worth its price on the weight-to-flavor ratio. Okay, so they're after what the market is advertising as 'trendy' at the moment. They want to become an expert on coffee themselves. Give them the chance to grow in knowledge: offer them something similar ... maybe a blend unique to them, offer this idea: they like this this and this, this more than this so we'll add this much of this and less of this. Or offer them something different. I don't see a winy African in there, how about a high grade Sidamo or Harrar? Strawberrys in the Sidamo, Blueberry in the Harrar.
Learn from your customer how to sell by what they want. You have an excellent opportunity to stretch your knowledge of product and customer service. This is an enviable situation, one I hope you embrace as 'growth' rather than 'difficulty'.
I mainly sell my coffee at local farmer's markets and often get asked the bold question. Some people are referring to the darkness of the roast, while others just want a full bodied cup. I typically try to have something for everyone. I would suggest a good Sumatra and roast it to a full city. That has been well received. I also came across some rich Brazil Bobolink that has wonder hints of chocolate. I would agree with Matt and see if you can take the taste that they do like and make a blend for them. Feel free to email me and I can put you in contact with my green supplier.
Take 3 different coffees and roast them 3 different ways, 9 samples total. If you need to keep it simpler than that then just do one type of coffee at a time, but roast it 3 ways no matter what.
Maybe one to 430 one to 440 and one to 450... just an example.
Set them up on a cupping table without your customer knowing which is which and ask them to pick their favorite.
I find, no offense to customers, but typically if they say they want a "bold" coffee they don't have a freaking clue what they want, that just sounds like something "coffee people" say. Today I had a customer say she wanted "the boldest thing we have." I assumed she meant darkest, but I always check. I set her up with a sample set (our shop is set up in a way that it is extremely easy to do quick cuppings/tastings) of a darker roasted Sumatra (Full City) and one of our lightest roasted coffees, a washed Sulawesi (City). She picked the Sulawesi because "it was stronger." Obviously both were brewed using exactly the same ratios... ::facepalm::
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